Friday, December 14, 2012

Mission Softens the Heart–December 10, 2012

My Eternal Family,

This last week was full of service and random activities. I've been to a giant Buddhist temple, fed horses, cased cows, cooked for 200 people, broke it down at a youth conference, and gave a last min talk about faith. It's funny how much I've been doing here, but time to time I feel my heart hurting for the situation of my area. I can say I spent most of my time last evening thinking to myself how life is truly how you decide too look at it. Similar to blinders on a horse we can focus on the negative only or the positive. For me I'm trying to see that a few rain clouds in my sky of sunshine should never ruin my day, but be a mere shady spot.

It was interesting for a Zone meeting this Friday we went to a Buddhist Temple to have it. The place was so huge and right in the middle of no where. It was much like those places you see in old kung Fu movies and where you feel at any moment ninjas will fall from the sky. It was very peaceful and extremely beautiful to see all the effort to beautify the temple. The monk that was there was also very funny and a blast too talk with. In my mind I thought all of my love for Asian culture is being fulfilled while I still serve in South Africa. The meeting was a great time too see everyone and Elder Fagg, who goes home in 41 days. My favorite part came when I got my post. Yes, that means I got the Package!!!! I love it so much everything in it will be a blast too have and decorate with. I can add that the caramels were the first too go:) Thank you so much!

Afterward the Zone leaders took us to the Stake center to help for the next two days with a youth convention. I met many people from Pretoria and had a great time helping with food and organizing. There is just something about working hard and a simple conversation with funny old women I love as we all cook. Friday night was my favorite time, it was the dance that we got too make sure everyone had a good time. I wore the bandana I got in the package to surprise everyone at the fact I could out dance anyone there. Everyone was crazy and screaming at the sight of a missionary breaking it down, even the leaders were happy that I got the kids excited. Many after said I would be famous cause they took pics and videos to paste on there Facebook. It was a lot of fun.

That same night we left with the Zone leaders who took us too a surprise. The surprise was a entire block completely decked out with Christmas lights! I never felt so trunky in my entire mission than at that place, on top of it the zone leaders popped in a cd full of Christmas music! I am glad to see you went through a light forest, because that night it felt like I was a little kid again looking out of the car with a huge smile. I knew that this was just what I needed. Thank you mom and dad for that memory!

Finally, Saturday evening we spent the time at our Branch president's home for pizza night and fun. We toured around his small farm with his young kids running around us the whole time. As a side note my President is very young around his early 30's with a young family. We then shot wasps nests with paintball guns, then I helped his wife feed the animals, we made personal pizzas, made cotton candy, and then got the news that will make mom flip. President said that we could Skype for as long as we wanted at his place on Christmas and that he has unlimited internet! Looks like I'll see you all on Christmas!!!! Woot woot!! I even just heard in an email from President that we are allowed too Skype!

I love the pics of the Christmas tree I'm sure it looks awesome back home:) Dad Thank you for writing me, it made a huge difference in lifting my spirits. I love you all so much and will write again next week:)

Love your Son and Brother,

Elder Jack Forrest Dalton


Miracles and Vacations! – December 3, 2012

Dear Family,

This was probably the best week ever here in good old Witbank! It was full of spending time with our zone leaders, Christmas parties, and a miracle or two:) I can say that this week has really lifted my spirits with a new hope and a stronger testimony that our heavenly father really is watching. Sometimes it takes a little struggle to loosen up the ground in order too grow up.

So the week started with us going out too Pretoria with the Zone leaders. They were picking us up for a zone conference the next day to be on time, they then told us to take the car around to find some activities the zone could do in the future. We were kind of amazed to be able and sight see around some awesome places in one of the most cheese boy parts of South Africa. We found a Elephant sanctuary, a crocodile farm, and a huge dam. I got some awesome pictures of those:) It would later turn out that we would stay with them for the next three days and even join them in teaching. It was wonderful to teach with Elder Fagg again, I had many flash backs to my greenie area. Then just the blessing to be able too teach was amazing, it's been hard going from 30 lessons a week, to be blessed with just one or two.

Then on the last day we were with the Zone leaders they told us the best thing I've ever heard. The mission had decided to give us our own car! I was dancing it up, rubbing my eyes, and screaming out in joy when they told us that! When I saw that car it just sent me over the edge, and I hugged that car. It's so nice to have a tool that will allow us to travel to all of Witbank, be able to visit more than one investigator/less active, and help us to stay out later in our area. Not to mention it personally gave me a renewing of hope in this area and was a personal answer to my prayers of help. Who new that something I took for granted in other areas would be a huge miracle in my eyes now. I'm extremely thankful.

Then this Saturday was our Branch Christmas party! It was full of a braai, bounce castles, and a lot of soccer. I was able to meet so many people of my branch and really get an in with them. It was a great time to talk and ask questions on how best too help the bleeding branch as the day went on ward. We also blew them away when we told them we had a car to visit people, they also noticed the huge blessing that comes with it. Now when I said a lot of soccer, I meant we played until our bodies could barley move. The missionaries had played at six in the morning until half seven, then we played it from eleven till four in the afternoon, Talk about crazy times with the branch. I think I'll be really good at soccer with this rate keeping up with how much we are playing.

I'm still happy and excited to work here in this area and be able to be the best I can at being a instrument. These are wonderful people and with this new hope, it makes the work much more possible. Happy Birthday to Jillian again! I'm excited from all the news you send me, keep it all up. I think about you all everyday, and it gets more powerful the closer I get too Christmas. Much love.

Your Son and brother,

Elder Jack F Dalton


Our Afflictions Are Swallowed Up in the Joy of Christ–November 26, 2012

Dear Family,

Well I loved hearing from you last week and it helped me to be motivated with this area. Except right after we got done emailing and went out to our bikes, and we found them stolen. I simply laughed my head off at that, in Witbank you have to be ready for the worst i guess. We then found out that we would have to buy brand new bikes from our funds, my companion was not very happy. Still I've reached the point were I'm not letting the things like that effect me too much and have been praying hard too seek help from heaven. This area is in need of much patience and healing, something I want to give the most.

We did have many positive "tender mercies" that the lord blessed us with. Tuesday we invited the district to fast with us and then we headed out to tract for a few hours. Later we would find out it was the hottest day yet this year that we did, but we met many good people and might have planted seeds all over that neighborhood. We met two white families, both seemed invested, but were leaving for a holiday till next year. One was a beautiful family where I talked with the mom and here two boys. When I asked if we could come by and teach their ten year old started shaking his head yes over and over, I hope that turns out to be a new family. Then as we were getting ready to leave because of the heat, we were let in to teach the first lesson to a young man in his 20's named bongani. That was our only lesson all week, I started dancing and singing "We just had a lesson, We just had a lesson, we just had a lesson, and it was really great!"

The rest of the week went slowly. I studied a lot about patience and love. I read about the sons of mosiah with Alma the younger preaching to the Zoramities. It helped me to find were I could place my worries and discouragement, read Alma 31. Then we met up with our branch president, President Nish, and his first counselor, brother Piercy. Both men are great leaders and are struggling to keep their branch afloat. They gave us a branch list and went through it to identify the less actives who we might be able to reach. It came to my attention that the elders here have been working hard,but not reaching out to the needs of the area. The branch is bleeding and is desperate need of healing. They lack a sense of unity and love for each other.

This was confirmed when we had our branch conference and I got to see our branches' state for the first time. I have to say it was one of the most awkward meetings of my life. There was no sense of unity and it felt that everyone was asleep most of the meeting. I was tempted to stand up and shout WAKE UP! It was good time to see that there is great members here, they just need the fresh blood that comes from missionary involvement. I felt great love and hope for the branch as I saw their state, so much that it over came my feelings of "Why me in Witbank." The way I see it, a missionary can come here do almost nothing for their time and leave, no one would know the difference. Or one can get immersed with the branch and help them to feel the love that comes from the gospel to set the stage for new converts to be welcomed in. I want to be the later. The hardest thing is going to be our transport, I just chuck it up to allowing Heavenly father to witness our faith for the miracles we will need.

I did celebrate a mini Thanksgiving here in Africa with elder Hoffman in my district. We were on exchange for the day and remembered it was Thanksgiving, so we decided to make a huge feast and braai up a huge Texas steak. They don't sell turkey here, so meat is what we went for. Needless to say we talked about home and the memories we have of spending time with family. We really wanted to watch some football that day and feel more American. We heard that the 49'ers beat the trash out of the browns! Go San Fran! I'm sure dad was very happy. As for Christmas we have no idea, we'll be inside for three days not allowed to tract. I'm open for ideas though.

Happy Birthday to Jillian! I'm send you some pictures and there will be a card on the way soon to you in the mail. The post strikes are up again and I've only received one letter since Oct. I love you all so much:)

Love your son and brother,

Elder Jack F Dalton


Another Challenge. . . Witbank–November 18, 2012

Dear Family,

So I'm just kind of jealous at the fact your all in Disneyland partying it up. It's cool to me too see you all having a blast and keeping up the traditions of our family. Myself on the other hand have fallen into one of my biggest challenges yet and I can see how this will be one of those make it or break it areas. Before I get into it all I will start with the good news first and then the challenge.

So the good news that we found out at transfer meeting was we all are going home two weeks earlier than planned. Due too the decrease in the MTC time they need to move up some transfers, thus it causes us who have been out to go home two weeks early. That was a huge shock to all of us. That means I'm now over nine and a half months. I feel so old now:)

Now my new companion is Elder Holman from Panguitch, Utah. I didn't meet him until I made the two hour drive too our area called Witbank. Witbank is a coal city with many power plants and mines. If I had too liken it too anything it would be to district 11 in the hunger games. The air is so bad that it's said too be like smoking seven cigarettes a day, with the water having a nasty gritty taste. It's a town area meaning more white people and a lot of tracting. We also ride bikes everywhere and if your not going down hill in Witbank your going up. This gives us a hard time when many of our members live far away too us and myself not being in the best shape too bike. The heat doesn't help too being around 100 degrees with humidity:)

As for missionary work, Elder Holman, has been working very hard, but we have no investigators at all. The branch is falling apart and can be on the verge off combining with the other ward in the near by township. When I heard all of this and saw the state of this place it causes my heart to hurt. My companion is very weary from so much work with no success, being here 6 months with one child baptism. It's taken a lot out of him.

Many people may see this as a hopeless case and a time to relax off missionary work. It's very easy too become overwhelmed and taken back in this area with it's state. Still I look at it with a great amount of hope and with faith to change this area the best I can. It's similar too the state of Katlehong, but in the end that area came back alive. It was said too me by Elder Holman that there are three types of missionaries when it comes to treating an area: the one that destroys, the one that maintains, and the one that brings back. He says president sends the ones that have brought back dying areas too Witbank in hopes to do the same. I'm excited for this new great adventure.

On the flip side, our district is really awesome and very young only 2 out of our six are over a year. My companion is the oldest out at 17 months and district leader. I get along with the two missionaries that are 6 months and 3 months so much that I've been called too primary teacher in my district. Elder Fagg is even my Zone leader and has been around me this weekend which has been a blast too see him and talk about old times. HE's getting excited only having 9 weeks till he goes home. He told me that he nearly flipped when he heard I was coming to his zone. That was a tender mercy for sure.

Please have as much fun as you can for me and tell me all about it. Keep me in your prayers. I even think I will be able too Skype at a email shop I'm at so there is a chance.

All my love!

Your son and Brother,

Elder Jack F Dalton


Pics of a Package and a Crazy Boy


Spit Fire Balls from an Apostle–October 29, 2012


Dear Family,

Well this week has been pretty cool and was much like any other week. The only exception was I was able to meet and shake hands with Elder Jeffery R. Holland! I was pretty excited for this and to hear what he had to tell us. Later on Friday I also got my Birthday PACKAGE!!!! It was a week of awesomeness:) Truly a week that I will not forget. Elder Palmer and I have been moving forward and been trying to encourage our investigators to come to church. Sometimes I can see why agency has a negative side too it. Still we keep finding and teaching. It's funny to think two weeks from now I might be leaving for my third area where I will hit my year! It's funny cause, I feel like I just got here.

So this Thursday we went to Sandton for our special zone conference with Elder Holland. there must have been 200 missionaries there. When we arrived everyone was hugging and greeting each other. I saw many people from my MTC group that I hadn't seen in months, we all laughed and soon started to recap the last few months of where we had been. I also saw my very funny father, Elder Fagg. He was so funny to see and to talk with. It was much like a proud father talking with adoring son, kind of cheesy. Still I loved seeing that English guy and he told me how happy he was to see me repairing his old area.

We all then entered the building and waited for it to start. I was sitting up front with Elder Palmer, he was conducting the music, when they told us Elder Holland wanted to shake all of our hands. That was cool until I noticed I was to be the first to shake his hand. I was so nervous and thought I might just burst into smoke as I touched his hand. He was a very nice guy and asked where I was from, he then asked " You okay Elder Dalton", in my mind I said "Oh no he's found something, I'm doomed". I just smiled and shook my head yes. His talk was full of gratitude for our sharpness and obedience, still it didn't stop him from shooting at us to be who we needed too. He also said that our mission should be the best time of our lifes and that when we return home we should be changed forever. The spirit was at the same intensity of the temple, with every shout he gave with passion was a spiritual fire ball of doom that burnt some weaknesses out of our character. It was awesome!

Friday was awesome as well. I got my package and I love it!!! Whoever's idea it was to send Zebra cakes I will fall down at their feet and thank them. I love all the crafts as well, I'll probably pass them all out this week to kids in my branch. I want to know who picked the shirt and pants. . . they are sweet! Elder Palmer and I laughed at them. Today I'm going to wear the shirt and laugh because the Africans freak out at the sight of the grim reaper, they are heavy into believing in Satanism. It's funny. I even made cupcakes last night for P day eve, but most of the frosting never made it to the cupcakes:) Thank you for the package and I will send some pictures of it home.

I'm doing well down here in South Africa. I feel very much a part of it and the people here. I have thoughts about how weird it will be to come home and readjust. I can say now that people here see me more as black than white, even saying when I talk it sounds like their talking to another black dude it's pretty sweet:) I'm jealous of the Disney trip, but I know it will be a blast! The blankets look freakin sweet and the Dog house looks simply brilliant! I'm a bit jealous also of Jacob and Jill getting one on one time:) LOL Still I love all of you and wish you the best, keep being happy:)

Love your son and brother,

Elder Jack Forrest Dalton